One of the many wonderful experiences about being a priest is being able to celebrate the sacraments with your family and friends. While celebrating the sacraments within one’s parish or university community is a privilege and a blessing, it takes on a special significance to celebrate these same moments of God’s grace with your family and close friends. Over the course of the last year, I want to highlight three moments that have been particularly special to me.
In the past 16 months since I’ve been a priest, I had the honor of baptizing my niece, Maeve Elizabeth and my nephew, Patrick Francis. What an incredible blessing to welcome one’s family members into God’s Church. It’s hard to describe what it is like in that moment of saying the words “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” as I pour the water over the heads of my each of my brothers’ children. What a beautiful gift it is to be able to open the door of the church to those we love!
A second experience is that of celebrating Marriage with those who we love and who love us. I’ve celebrated two of these weddings and am looking forward to two more in the future. At the end of June, just prior to going on retreat, I had the opportunity to celebrate my good friend Amanda’s wedding as she married her husband Matt. As I looked down the aisle as Amanda walked into the Chapel at Christopher Newport University, I couldn’t help but smile as years of friendship and blessings passed through my mind. What a beautiful witness to God’s kingdom present on earth as we celebrated the love that Amanda and Matt shared in this moment – in expressing their love for each other in the presence of God and His Church!
Finally, I was recently asked to celebrate a Mass for the new Campus Ministry Interns of the University of Notre Dame at the beginning of their academic year. I was asked to celebrate this Mass by my classmate from the Master of Divinity program, Mike Urbaniak. Over the last few years, I have grown to know Mike and his wife Megan. Last November, Mike and Megan asked me to be the Godfather of their daughter Felicity. Celebrating this Mass, with Mike, Megan and Felicity there is in the front row is one of those priceless moments that we all experience. Sharing the Eucharist and the peace that only Christ brings us with each other was truly awesome and reminded me of the love that God has for us all.
Fr. Dan Ponisciak, C.S.C., took his Final Vows with the Congregation of Holy Cross in the fall of 2014, and was ordained a priest in the spring of 2015. He earned an M.Ed. from the College of William & Mary prior to completing his M.Div. from the University of Notre Dame. He currently serves as Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Parish in South Bend, Indiana. Fr. Dan is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.